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Empty hospital to receive new life as part of Rockdale ISD campuses

Posted at 7:04 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 20:04:21-04

ROCKDALE, Texas — Rockdale’s small community hospital, Little River Healthcare, has stood vacant for several years now, after the facility was forced to close its doors due to bankruptcy in 2018.

Thanks to Rockdale schools, however, the empty building will be entering a bright new future. Rockdale ISD will be officially be receiving the building as a donation from the city's hospital district.

“So the hospital district was talking about putting it out for bid, and we just thought that whole saying of it doesn’t hurt to ask," said Denise Monzingo, Rockdale ISD superintendent. "... It’s just across the street from the high school, so there’s 40,000 square feet here. And if we tried to build something of this size, we couldn’t afford to do that.”

The school district will completely own the property by this summer and will be able to collect rent from home and a small clinic on the plot as well. Monzingo hopes to start hosting dual credit courses and community night classes in conjunction with Temple College at this location, as early as fall of 2023.

“The hospital, with its design and space, is perfect, because we’ll be able to deliver those high technical pathways in multiple industry sectors," said Dr. Christina Ponce, president of Temple College.

Currently, Rockdale High School students can already receive 12 dual credit hours through Temple College. The dream with these future classroom spaces, Ponce said, is to eventually make full associates degrees accessible in Rockdale for local residents and people in surrounding towns. Already the school district is planning to move nine instructors into the building, freeing up much-needed classroom space at the high school.

“Dr. Ponce wants [Temple College] to have a presence in the county, and we want them in the county," said Milam County Judge Steve Young. "She has filed for a huge $11 million grant, and if we get it, it will be used to renovate this building. And she, I hope, will have space in this building for higher education,”

As the district waits for the ownership to fully transfer over, and to receive news on the grant, they are dreaming of all that could be. Monzingo said she hopes to make use of existing features for education, such as the hospital kitchen area.